I had the joy and privilege of spending last week at Covenant Harbor as the Camp Pastor. Whenever I spend time at camp, I’m reminded of how blessed we are to have this incredible resource of camping ministry in our conference! Life at camp runs on a different pace, where we have the time and space to breathe deeply, connect with God in creation, and build stronger relationships with others.
As the camp pastor, I was able to take part in all the different programs that happen during the week at Covenant Harbor. I sat in on sessions with Day Camp, Pier 30 (overnight 4th-6th grade camp), Kishwauketoe (overnight 2nd-4th grade camp), and Alpha (high school service camp). The age of campers in Pier 30 changes from week to week, so there are other weeks in the summer when 7th-9th grade and high school students are participating in overnight camps. In addition to joining these sessions, I got to know many of the counselors on staff this summer as I led two of their devotional times during the week. Each and every counselor I met was fully invested in the kids they were leading, and the counselors gave all that they had to make sure that the kids at camp were loved, cared for, and excited for every activity during the week.
I saw Colossians 3:16 in action every day – “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” The counselors taught sessions and led camp songs with enthusiasm and passion. I saw so much enthusiasm that it wasn’t unusual for a counselor to lose his or her voice!
Life at camp isn’t perfect, by any means. Kids get sick or hurt, and kids feel homesick. I had the honor of getting to know some of the kids who were struggling throughout the week, but I also had the joy of seeing the camp nursing staff and the camp program staff care for these kids with compassion and love. One staff member even said that she knew all of these kids were coming out of a really hard year, and I saw in her words and actions that camp is a place of safety and grace.
Kelsey Kincanon is serving as a lead counselor in the Day Camp program all summer, and she is leading large group sessions, teaching Bible stories, and connecting with kids one-on-one in ways that affirm their value in the eyes of God. My own son Joshua participated in an overnight camp for the first part of the week, and he had a great experience! He learned some fun new mealtime prayers, tried some things outside of his comfort zone, and was reminded over and over again that God loves him with an everlasting love. My daughter Lily tagged along with us for the week and made a number of new friends. She loved playing with the older girls on the playground!
We have a long history and tradition of attending Winter Camp at Covenant Harbor, and my hope and prayer is that we continue and build on that tradition by connecting more kids from ECC into the Summer Camp program in 2022. Camp fills up fast, so I’ll be sharing the information as soon as I have it in January of 2022.
If you’d like to give toward Camp Scholarships so that kids from ECC can attend both summer and winter camps, you can give online at www.ecclife.net/giving. In the box that says, “Please indicate any special notes about your gift here,” write “Camp Scholarships” in the memo. To learn more about the camps in our conference, visit https://centralconf.org/ministries/camps/.